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In horse training or natural horsemanship, Approach is nothing more than a technique or method used in helping your horse to understand what it is you want him to do.
I feel it's important to point out at this time that one of the major reasons people fail to achieve excellence with their horse is that they are not mentally, emotionally and physically fit. The way to achieve this is by being persistent and consistent in learning and practicing your horse training / natural horsemanship skills. Remember, It's not your horses fault, it's your responsibility to be fit if you're to achieve success and excellence with your horse.
In talking about Approach or techniques, we'll use some examples to point out some approaches people take in working with their horses, which are very different from natural horsemanship.
Let's talk a little about longeing? Most people longe their horses to exercise them, but let's look at what happens when you do this. Your horse is going in mindless circles usually circling to the left and will certainly get stronger physically, but unfortunately, he will also get mentally weaker because you are only exercising his body and not his mind. It's important to exercise both his body and mind.
Now let's look at lateral longeing. This is where we are going to exercise both your horse's body and mind. First, what are the differences between longeing and lateral longeing?
In normal longeing, the person is only exercising the horse to take off the edge so the horse will be easier to ride. I think it's important to note that if your longeing your horse 15 minutes to take off the edge eventually you will be exercising him 30 minutes to take off the edge and as you continue this regime he will become stronger and stronger until you can no longer handle him.
In lateral longeing, you're looking to develop a communication system with your horse along with exercising his body and mind, which will cause your hose to be emotionally collected. This communication system is built around 6 yields? Your horse going forward, backward, left, right, up or down. These 6 yields work into a series of maneuvers, which will exercise your horses mind and body. By being persistent and using the 6 yields you will help your horse to be mentally collected and instead of increasing the time it takes to get your horse under control you will decrease the time each day. By using lateral longeing you can help your horse to become mentally collected in a shorter period of time.
Remember that horses can do only 6 things, but they can do them in combination? Move forward, backward, left, right, up and down. Your goal should be to get your horse to go forward, backward and sideways whenever you ask him. If you can do this, you will become the Alpha horse in his society.
When you teach your horse to go backwards you are also teaching him to stop. The better he backs up the better he stops. When you teach him to go sideways, you are also teaching him to steer left or right. When moving right or left you are simply moving his hindquarters or front quarters or moving them both at the same time to move sideways. Most horsemen will tell you that the better a horse backs up and goes sideways the better he will do everything else.
Lateral longeing is different from normal longeing in that you are exercising your horses mind with his body following naturally causing your horse to yield to you mentally.
Let' take a quick look at Riding. What do most people do after saddling and getting on their horse? They kick him to go, rein him across the neck to turn and pull on him to stop. Instead, why not get him mentally and emotionally ready before we go riding? Why not put your horse through the 6 yields? Yes, I know that takes some time, but is it worth it to you and your horse to be emotionally and mentally fit before you go riding?
After putting you horse through the 6 yields you're now ready to mount. After you're mounted, it's time to ask your horse to move forward. Instead of kicking him to go why not ask him to move by giving him a cue?
For example, if you want to move your horse forward, put 2 or 3 cues together, put them in order and be consistent with them and your horse will eventually respond to the cues. An example of this would be to 1. Squeeze both cheeks of your buttocks tightly. If that won't cause him to move forward then progress to cue number 2. Genteelly squeeze with your legs clear to your ankles and use a verbal cue such as a cluck, kiss or smooch. If this still won't get him moving forward then progress to cue number 3. Give your horse a spank, preferably closer to the center of the tail head. This will start your horse to move straight. If you spank right or left of center, you will cause your horse to move off to the left or right.
When using cues remember to start the cue with light pressure and increasing the pressure, (the pressure should only be for a few seconds before moving on to the next cue) and if there is no response move on to the next cue until you get the desired response. With practice and consistency, your hose will learn to move off the pressure (cue) at the slightest squeeze of your buttocks or legs, whichever you decided to use as your cue.
This article is getting long so I will briefly touch on stopping your horse. There are two ways to stop your horse, pulling back on the reins which most people use (the horse can get wise, tuck his chin and keep running) or you can bend your horses neck around with one rein and cause him to stop. If you can bend his neck to the right and stop his right side then his left side is probably not going to run off and vise versa.
I do not recommend letting or allowing your horse to stop on his own; if you allow this behavior, you will eventually have problems with keeping your horse moving. You only want your horse to stop after preparing him with a cue to stop and then giving him the cue to stop. A cue might be, you bringing down your energy by putting both hands on your thighs, completely relax and look down at your tummy, to sum it up, quit riding. Eventually your horse figures out that you have stopped riding and he will stop. Remember, you have to be consistent and persistent, it is not going to happen over night, but eventually your horse will figure out the cues and you will get the desired response. One other thing, make sure you keep your horse straight. This will cause him to stop. Don't worry about him not stopping as quickly as you like as long as he comes to a stop. As I said before it takes time to get the desired response.
Good Luck and have fun with your horse!
This article is brought to you by Perfect Horse Gifts
If you like this article and would like to learn more or would like to send it to a friend, please feel free to do so. You can subscribe at: Perfect Horse Gifts or The Roundup
In the next article, we will discuss Patients? Be patient/tolerant, take the time do it right and you won't have to go back and do it again and again. Helping your horse to understand what it is you want him to do.
Copyright © Mike Gorzalka All Rights Reserved Worldwide
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*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in this article is of my personal opinions and beliefs and should not be taken as anything more.
About The Author:
Mike Gorzalka has spent the better part of his life around horses. His dad, Mike Sr., taught him the importance of understanding the horse and how to use a firm, but kinder and gentler approach to helping horses understand what it is we humans are trying to communicate.
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